The Cup double winners face Manchester United (Sunday 20 October, 12pm), Arsenal (Sunday 17 October, 2:30pm) and Atletico Madrid (Wednesday 30 October, 6:30pm local time) across three competitions – the Continental Cup, FA Women’s Super League and Champions League – looking to maintain our strong start to the campaign and continue our quest for all four trophies, including the FA Cup.
Cushing’s side suffered disappointment in the European Round of 16 first leg visit of Atletico Madrid to the Academy Stadium on Wednesday night, conceding in the final ten minutes to allow the Spanish outfit an away goal.
The result means City must score in Madrid in a fortnight’s time, adding pressure to an already tense fixture schedule, but the manager asserts his squad have the mental strength to clinch three victories, which could prove pivotal come the end of the season.
“This is important,” he admitted. “I don’t think we can lose; I know what these players are like.
“If we lose against Man United and Arsenal, it will be the biggest kick up the backside this team needs and we’ll go on and be stronger than we ever have been.
“If we win the games, we’ll still be so mentally strong that we’ll go into every game thinking: ‘We’ve just beaten United, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid: we can take on the world.'
“As a coach, I’ll always take the positives. The game is so competitive that no-one will always win.
“United will be a very competitive game and everyone will have to be prepared for another game of the same level.
“You have to be prepared to adapt against teams. Who knows if United will play 4-3-3 as they have done all season?
“At the end of the season, when you win trophies, you look back on these periods where you worked hard and worked well. I would rather have a run like this than have a period with what’s perceived to be an easier game in between.”
City will receive a welcome boost for the testing trio of fixtures with several key names pushing for returns from injury.
While Cushing’s side have coped admirably with the setbacks, starting the season in fine form, the boss expects an improvement across the board as the squad fight to keep their place.
“Stanway is in the squad. She’ll push hard for the next few days. She wants to start – she’s already told me!
“Bremer is as close as she’s ever been. She didn’t get through the session (on Tuesday) but she probably could have played (against Atletico Madrid). We’re not worried.
“As for Ellen White, we’re taking it day by day. If it’s not the Man United game, it will be the Arsenal game; if not the Arsenal game, it will be the Atletico Madrid game.
“As a coach, I’m pushing the medical team because I want to see her before the international break but I don’t compromise the medical team because she’s so important to us.
“Having Lauren Hemp back in the squad now gives me more confidence. She’ll have played four games by the Champions League second leg.
“She’s not really had a consistent run in our team and we’ve not seen the best of her. She was injured last season and then she didn’t get a chance in the system we played.
“She was then injured before the United game – she had a shoulder injury. The more games she plays, the better she’ll get.
“She’s still a shadow of what she can be and I’m excited for her. Hopefully, she can get better.
“We’ll be in a good place. We’re excited for the United game.”